Top 50 Kansas City Royals

An expansion team in 1969, the Kansas City Royals brought baseball back to KC after the Athletics relocated to Oakland in 1967.  The Royals struggled early as expected of any expansion team but they would make their first playoff in 1976 and return in ’77, ’78, and 1980.  The latter year would see the Royals make their first World Series although they would go down in defeat to the Philadelphia Phillies.

The first half of the 1980s were good to the Royals and in 1985 they would put it all together and win the World Series by defeating their cross-state rival, the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985.  The Royals would remain decent for the next ten years (although they did not reach the playoffs) but from the mid 90’s to the early 2010’s organization did not perform very well and more often than not found themselves in the bottom half of the standings.

After 29 years, the Royals returned to the postseason as a wild card team and advanced to the World Series but were beaten by the San Francisco Giants.  The next year they would return to the World Series but this time they would beat the New York Mets to take their second championship.

Note: Baseball lists are based on an amalgamation of tenure, traditional statistics, advanced statistics, playoff statistics, and post-season accolades. 


This list is updated up until the end of the 2020 Season.

If we were to this list based primarily on longevity and statistical accumulation than Paul Splittorff would be near the top, however it is hard for us to rank someone higher when he never seriously challenged for any statistical win among hurlers in any season, nor was he really considered the ace of the staff by those in the know. 
A National Champion at Arizona State Larry Gura would have mediocre stints with the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees before the latter traded him to Kansas City.  It would be in the Midwest where the southpaw would find himself as the Royals’ sometimes ace.
The meat of Charlie Leibrandt’s career took place in Kansas City where he would win 10 or more games five years in a row (1984-89).  1985 would be far and away the best season of his career where he would finish fifth in Cy Young voting by going 17 and 9 and a 2.69 ERA, which was good enough for second in the AL.  Most importantly, Leibrandt was a major factor in the Royals reaching and winning the 1985 World Series.  He would record 76 Wins for Kansas City overall.
Darrell Porter would play more seasons with Milwaukee and would win a World Series with St. Louis (where he was both the NLCS and World Series MVP) but in between those teams he played the best baseball of his career with the Kansas City Royals.
Eric Hosmer was a highly touted rookie and the former third overall pick would finish third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2011.  Hosmer would show steady numbers and a gradually increased power game, as he would belt 25 Home Runs in his last two years in Kansas City (2016-17).  A member of the 2015 World Series Championship Team, he would be named an All Star in 2016 and in 2017 would earn his lone Silver Slugger as a Royal while putting up a career high .318 Batting Average.
Johnny Damon will always be best known for his run with the Boston Red Sox where he helped them win their first World Series in decades, but his star began as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
Kevin Seitzer’s best season of his Major League Baseball career was in his rookie season where in 1987 he was the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year and was the co-leader in Hits.  Seitzer put up what would be career highs in Home Runs (15) and bWAR (5.8) while also boasting a .323 Batting Average and a trip to the All Star Game.  Seitzer never duplicated that year, but he still would put up three more 165 Hit seasons and would have a .294 career Batting Average over his six years in Kansas City.
Whit Merrifield helped the University of South Carolina win the 2010 College World Series, and the Kansas City Royals would draft him in the Ninth Round that year.


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In the mid-1970’s it was expected that Steve Busby would have an incredible career, and for a couple of seasons that was certainly the case.  In his rookie year, Busby won 16 Games and was a 22 Game winner in his second season (1974) and would go to his first of two straight All Star Games.   1975 would see Busby net 18 Wins and at this point it was believed that Steve Busby was considered one of the top ten Pitchers in the American League. 
A Rule 5 Draft choice from the San Diego Padres, Joakim Soria was brought in and immediately found a spot in the Royals’ bullpen.  Soria saved 17 Games in his rookie year and in the next three seasons he would save 30 or more games while going to two All Star Games.  In those three years he would post an ERA of 1.84 with a 1.005 WHIP and in 2010 he finished second in Win Probability Added and Saves while also finishing tenth in Cy Young voting.
David Cone would become known (right or wrong) as a “gun for hire”, a Pitcher who could get you over the hump.  While he was often a Cy Young contender the only time he did win the award was in 1994…when he was a member of the Kansas City Royals.
As of this writing, Danny Duffy is in his eleventh season in the Majors, all of which have been for the Kansas City Royals.  Duffy has been used primarily as a Starting Pitcher, his highlight being the 2016 season where he went 12-3 with 188 Strikeouts.  He was the Royals’ Opening Day Pitcher in both 2016 & 2017 and prior to that in a relief role he helped KC win the 2015 World Series.
Mike Moustakas played the first eight and a half seasons of his career with the Kansas City Royals, where he may not have been the best player, but he was among the most popular.  While it can be debated that he hasn’t had the production you would hope for in regards to a second overall pick, Moustakas (or “Moose” as he is called) has certainly had a good career and was vital to the Royals 2015 World Series Championship.
In 2004 David DeJesus finished 6th in American League Rookie of the Year voting and while that would be the closest he would come to winning an award in Major League Baseball he would have a productive run with Kansas City.  DeJesus would have three straight 155 Hits seasons (2007-09) and would lead the AL in being Hit by Pitches in 2006.  He would also have a .307 season (2008).
Greg Holland rose up the ranks in the Kansas City Royals organization where he was designed to be a reliever from the get-go.  With his reliable four-seam fastball, Holland would never start a game for KC but would work his way from middle relief to the full-time closer’s role when Jonathan Broxton was traded to Cincinnati on July 31, 2012.  It proved to be a wise trade for the Royals.
An original Kansas City Royal, Al Fitzmorris arrived to KC via the Expansion Draft and he would play eight seasons for the Royals.  In the first half of his run with Kansas City he would be in and out of the bullpen trying to find his groove but he would be promoted to a regular starter in 1973 and from 1974 to 1976 he would win 13 or more Games for the Royals and would win 70 overall against 48 Losses.
Tom “Flash” Gordon’s long baseball career began with the Kansas City Royals where in 1989 he would be the runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award.  Arguably this would be the best year he would have as a Starting Pitcher where he went 17 and 9 with 153 Strikeouts but he would have three more seasons with Kansas City where he whiffed 140 or more batters.  Gordon would go 79 and 71 for Kansas City but would achieve greater success in his career as a Relief Pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
For a time, “The Bull”, Danny Tartabull was one of the more feared power hitters in the sport.  The New York Yankees certainly thought so when they signed him from the Kansas City Royals where he was coming off his best season, but he never did duplicate that production in the Bronx (though he did get a Seinfeld episode out of it).
For three seasons, Bud Black was a successful Starting Pitcher for the Kansas City Royals.  In 1984, Black would go 17 and 12 with a WHIP of 1.128, which was good enough to lead the AL in that statistical category.  Bud Black would later assist the Royals in winning the World Series and afterward would be in the bullpen for two more seasons.